We're all seriously bummed about Google Reader shutting down, but it's not the end of the world, and there are a number of great news reading apps and services out there stepping up to replace it with syncing features and easy import tools to keep you organized. This week we're going to look at five of the best, based on your nominations.
Earlier in the week, we asked you which service you thought was the best replacement for Google Reader, taking into account that the service you nominated needed to be as close to Google Reader's feature set (syncing, multi-platform, web-accessible) as possible. You weighed in with tons of nominations?far more great alternatives than we could possibly feature here. Still, some stood out above the others and picked up more nominations. Let's take a look.
The Old Reader
The Old Reader may be in beta, but it was built to be a suitable replacement for Google Reader. And not just Google Reader as we know it now, the old Google Reader, that still had plenty of tools for sharing and organization. You can log in via Google or Facebook, and import your feeds from Google Reader or any other service via OPML. If the interface looks familiar, it should: it looks a lot like Google Reader, complete with folders down the left side, your list of stories in the main pane (click any to read), and one-click subscription to new feeds. You get many of the same keyboard shortcuts, and even get the same ability to follow other Old Reader users and share interesting stories with them?the way you used to be able to with Google Reader. The Old Reader is fast, free, and super simple to use. There are no mobile apps yet, but the web site works well on mobile devices, and the developers behind it note they're working on it. There are, however, Chrome and Safari extensions for it.
NewsBlur was one of the first services people suggested when the Google Reader announcement came down. NewsBlur has a really well built interface that's also similar to Google Reader, but with some useful bells and whistles that make reading a bit more fun or easy on the eyes. For example, you can toggle the original view and display articles the way they show up on their respective sites, or read them the way they're presented in their RSS feeds, or view them text-only to get rid of the images and the page fluff. You can share stories with friends, save them for future reading, star them, start your own "blurblog" of featured stories you want to share, and more. If you like to keep up with news on the go, NewsBlur's iPhone, iPad, and Android apps will bring you the latest stories anywhere you are. Free accounts are capped at 64 blogs, 10 stories at a time, and public sharing options. Premium users ($24/yr) can subscribe to as many sites as they want, get all the latest stories at one time, get faster site refreshes, can share publicly or privately, and of course support the service. Sadly, if you don't already have a free account, you can't get one right now?due to high demand, they've temporarily stopped free users from signing up. Keep an eye out though, I'm sure they'll drop this restriction once demand dies down.
Feedly was one of your top choices in the Call for Contenders thread, and many of you used Feedly long before Google announced it was shuttering Reader. Feedly has long been one of your favorite RSS news readers and news aggregators. We've mentioned them several times as the service has grown and updated. In addition to having a rich news suggestion algorithm that makes it easy to surface articles that you'll find interesting, it's a rich social tool that lets you share stories with your friends and post them to your favorite social networks. Saving stories for future reading is easy, and Feedly offers layout choices that let you read the news in the manner you choose?whether it's straight headlines from top to bottom, full articles, neatly arranged tiles, or pretty images all laid out on a page. Best of all, Feedly has said that while right now they connect to Google Reader and sync with it, they're building a new syncing engine so Feedly users can seamlessly continue using the service long after Google Reader turns off the lights. Stay tuned for that. Feedly is less webapp as it is browser extension and mobile app: there are add-ons for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, and mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Netvibes is actually a social aggregation and dashboarding service, but that doesn't stop it from being a robust RSS news reader. Basic accounts at Netvibes are free (note that Premium and Pro accounts are available but expensive?you don't need any of the services they offer just to read RSS feeds), and that's all you really need to keep track of your feeds. You can take the suggested feeds they start you off with, or you can import your own via OPML or subscribe to specific blogs by pasting in their URL. Signing up is quick and easy, and once you're set up, you can even use Netvibes as a bit of a dashboard/homepage replacement. Add widgets for weather, finance, and top news stories to your dashboard and you get a pretty useful homepage that also shows you the new stories from your favorite sites. Don't look for mobile apps in this case though?Netvibes doesn't have any. They do have a mobile site designed for smart and dumb phones alike (it auto-detects which one you're using and sends you to the right place.) It'll let you read the news, but it won't let you edit anything.
Pulse is only partially a syncing RSS reader?it relies heavily on its own news filtering algorithms to help you find the stories that they think you'll enjoy. You can use it as a way to just keep up on all the latest stories from the blogs you like to read, but when you nominated it as one of your favorite news aggregators, it was because it was great at lifting the interesting stories to the top. It departs from the traditional news reader UI for a more visual, tiled approach (similar to one of the views you can see in Feedly.) That said, Pulse does let you import your Google Reader feeds (via mobile-you can't do it on the web), and since they operate their own service, they'll handle the syncing and management for you?no external service required. Pulse offers a webapp and mobile apps for iOS and Android phones and tablets. You can easily save stories for later, share with friends, or just browse some of the more popular and trending stories, filter by category, and pick up where you left off on a new device without losing your place.
There you have it, your five favorite Google Reader alternatives. Now it's time to decide the all-out winner.
Honorable mentions this week go out to TinyTinyRSS, a self-hosted RSS reading app that allows you to grab your feeds on any system, as long as you have a web host and you're comfortable installing and setting it up. The process actually isn't that difficult, and full disclosure, I'm thinking about doing this myself. Since there's a Tiny Tiny RSS Android client to go with it, it's worth a look. Plus, it's free and open source, and at the end of the day you own your feeds and your data, and it won't shut down on you.
We should also make full mention of the fact that Google Reader isn't going anywhere just yet! There are more petitions floating around to keep it alive than we can count, and (even if you believe in the efficacy of online petitions) it's worth keeping in mind that the RSS reader market is going to change a lot between now and July 1st, when Google Reader finally sunsets. Most popular apps will roll their own syncing agent and try to stay alive. Stay tuned, and watch to see if your favorite is planning something big. Reeder, our favorite news reader for Mac and iPhone/iPad, has already said they're working on something. Sadly, FeedDemon, our favorite for Windows, says the end of Google Reader is the end for them too.
You guys nominated far more than we could possibly feature, so we'd love to hear more of your favorites in the discussions. Let us know which one you plan to use, or which company is prepping something interesting (maybe it's Digg's plans for a syncing news reader?) that you want to know more about. Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don't just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is?and make your case for it?in the discussions below.
The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it's not because we hate it?it's because it didn't get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it's a bit of a popularity contest, but if you have a favorite, we want to hear about it. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!